Beauwater – Who Works for Who? | Album Review

Beauwater – Who Works for Who?

Self-produced CD

10 songs – 36 minutes

Based out of St. John’s, Newfoundland, where they were founded in 2008, Beauwater are a three-piece power trio who bill the music they produce as “East Coast Canadian blues rock.” This disc is a long-awaited follow-up to their 2016 release, Lovers, Fools and Kings, which took home honors as blues album of the year in the regional East Coast Music Awards.

A five-time ECMA nominee, the group’s music regularly appears on radio stations across Atlantic Canada and the Northeastern U.S., and they’ve shared billing with several top rock bands from both sides of the border in their history, including Third Eye Blind, Our Lady of Peace, Big Sugar, Matt Mays, Hey Rosetta and The Trews.

Beauwater’s fronted by vocalist/guitarist Jonathon Reid with Michael Maddox on drums and Greg Newhook on bass with guest appearances from Chris Kirby on keys and slide guitar, Big Sugar’s Kelly Hoppe on harmonica, Terry Campbell on trumpet and Chris Hartnett on sax. Produced by Kirby, this set was conceived as an attempt to duplicate the band’s live performances in a studio setting in what they term a stripped-down approach in which no note is wasted.

“Who Works for Who?” powers out of the gate in the all-original set atop driving triplets as Reid questions the loyalty of a proposed business partner. It flows smoothly into “Flavour of the Week,” which describes someone who’s a star on Monday, but old news on Friday, when no one wants anything to do with him.

Blues comes to the fore for the first time in “The New Disease,” which puts an interesting spin on coronavirus as it questions the headlines appearing on the singer’s computer screen, while “The Real McCoy” sings praise of bootleg rum smuggled from St. Pierre to the Jersey shore. It’s delivered with an attack halfway between hard rock and Hill Country aided by Hoppe’s harp.

“Tonight She’s Gonna Burn” provides a welcome aural shift. It’s a ballad that aches to explode as it describes a 30-year-old building going up in flames after being struck by lightning. Next up, the funky “Long Way Down” predicts the ultimate demise of someone who’s had it all, but hasn’t shared the wealth and the haunting “Nodding Off” serves up a not-so-subtle complaint about the pharmaceutical industry, which cashes in as its victims doze – some of them permanently.

The horns come out for “The Broken Man Behind the Wheel,” another refreshing change-of-pace ballad with a pleasant, jazzy arrangement. It describes the end of a relationship in which the lady leaves in a huff after claiming the man hasn’t been either straight or true. The Hill Country feel returns along with Hoppe for “Poison,” which, in this case, is loneliness after being abandoned by a friend. The album concludes with “One Way Out,” which describes a world in chaos.

Available through Apple Music and several other vendors, Who Works for Who? won’t work for most blues lovers because the hard-rock edge dominates throughout. If you’re a lover of blues-rock, however, it’s definitely more to your taste and worth a listen.

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